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I am so undone that I'll usually find the absolutely wrong place to pull over so that I end up exposing both myself and the man in blue to the threat of oncoming traffic.

When we think of something being caught in the headlights, we usually think of deer. These wonderful but suicide-prone critters tend to freeze in the face of approaching cars. Kay Jewett

What I'm talking about, though, is what happens when it is a human being caught in the headlights. I am here to tell you that our reaction is largely the same as a deer's.

I have had only a few interactions with the police in my life, and they have all involved speeding in my car.

Thinking back, I have to believe that there was a direct correlation between the color of the car and the frequency of my headlight experience (note to all and sundry — avoid red!)

The headlights I speak of, of course, are the ones present on the front of a police car. These lights are accompanied by flashing red strobes and even, at times, a siren.

Personally, when noticing these lights in my rearview mirror, I tend to do what the deer do, and freeze. I am so undone that I'll usually find the absolutely wrong place to pull over so that I end up exposing both myself and the man in blue to the threat of oncoming traffic.

I don't want anyone to think that I make a habit of speeding. The problem is that I love red cars. And this isn't a scientific observance, but I am convinced that owning a red car somehow engages the speed pedal in your psyche.

In addition, if the car is hot (fast) then you are in possession of a red-hot car. This is, of course, a recipe for disaster. As a result of being a certain age, I called mine "The Hot Flash", and I was probably never safe in it.

So I was recently driving along a thoroughfare in my home town of Wilsonville, when I glanced in the rearview mirror and found, to my utter dismay, a police car practically on my bumper. I confess that I froze, just like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

My first reaction? My brain saying "Oh my God, there goes my insurance premium!" Second reaction? I'm thinking that even though I should only get a traffic ticket, I could also possibly end up in jail. That wouldn't make sense, but hey, I plead the universal fear of authority raising its ugly head and scaring me witless!

I did manage to pull over to a safe roadside spot and brace myself before "the bust." When the officer approached me, his first words were "Do you know what the speed limit is on this road?" I hemmed and hawed and finally stammered "Yes, it's 35 mph."

Unfortunately, according to the officer, I was doing 50. Oh boy, I thought, am I in for it. Then, to my complete surprise, he looked me in the eye and said "Is anything going on at home?"

How, I wondered, did he know? I had spent the day in the ER waiting while my husband underwent a procedure designed to shock his heart back into rhythm. When we got home, I left him to run a quick errand and was hurrying to return home when I encountered the police.

The fact that my man in blue asked such a caring question really gave me pause. Here was an obviously sensitive person who was belying the negative reputation the police seem to be operating under these days.

When I told him what had transpired, he stood for a moment and seemed to ponder. Then he slowly wrote the ticket. I was wondering about what no-doubt-exorbitant fine I would be paying, when he handed the dreaded ticket through the window.

To my immense relief, instead of a directive to pay a fine or appear in court, the ticket merely gave me a warning. The officer paused and said "I hope your day gets better. Take it easy." Actually, officer, it just did, and I will. Deep in thought, I watched him walk back to his car, give me a wave, and drive away.

I concluded that the lesson here means that freezing in the headlights doesn't always end in disaster. Sometimes you not only survive, but you learn a little bit about kindness and humanity.

Rest assured that Kay has recently given up "The Hot Flash" and is currently, and somewhat reluctantly, ensconced in a sedate, dark blue sedan.

If you want to commiserate, she can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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